All posts tagged: spices

Nigeria’s Secret: Suya Spice

I didn’t appreciate the nostalgic memories the ingredients which make up Suya Spice conjured  up for Nigerian’s living in diaspora, that is until this weekend at the door step of my home. Suya (sooya) is West Africa’s shish kebab with a dry rub of nuts and spices. It is believed that Suya originated with the Hausa people (located in Northern Nigeria), nevertheless it’s popularity has spread and is now a visible part of Nigeria’s large towns and cities thanks to the many street vendors who work the grills till way into the night. Suya is usually made with lean cuts of beef, however now that the spice has come into its own, it has been used to liven up roast potatoes and marinade chicken or fish for example. So let’s breakdown some of the unique ingredients: Kuli Kuli (peanut stick) The peanut flavour of Suya comes in the form of a fried ground peanut paste known popularly as ‘Kuli Kuli’ (see picture). When crushed, the kuli kuli  or peanut sticks turns into a smooth powder or peanut flour. In essence, kuli kuli is a peanut powder obtained through the …

Swedish Cardamom Buns

  If your first thoughts were: “this looks complicated”, then think again. Because once you read through the step by step guide below, you will be tying knots (albeit the dough kind) like a sailor. They are so much fun to make! This recipe reminds me of the brioche loaves I made last year because of the light buttery texture of the bread. These buns take less than half the time it takes to make brioche and has a lot more flavour: I brought them into the office the next day and before I got back to my seat they were all gone! Not all recipes use egg but I find adding it here helps give the dough a soft, cakey like texture that you expect from a cinnamon roll. I love the generous use of cardamom, one of my favourite spices. It was back breaking having to grind it by hand in a mortar and pestle; very few places sell the seeds grounded. Be generous with the spice measurements, about 1/4 of it will melt away in the baking process anyway. …

Berbere Spice: a blend of Ethiopia

Berbere, which means “hot” in Amharic, is an Ethiopian spice blend very common to Ethiopian cooking. Most of the heat comes from the fiery long red finger of dried chillies buried under heaps of other amazing spices. Berbere is treated very much like an ‘all purpose’ seasoning, so it can be added to stews, vegetables, meat, fish and probably even rice as well. As I carried out my research to find the most authentic blend, I soon realised, whichever combination I found, it would pretty much empty out my whole kitchen cupboard! I think I turned over every jar, bottle and cup that had spices in them. It actually felt good to use them again, some like fenugreek had barely been touched; and I was getting tired of the same old 1-2-3 combinations I’ve been falling back on for yonks (haven’t used that word in ages?!). Doesn’t it look amazing! And it tastes absolutely delicious! You’ve basically cut your seasoning time down to less than a minute! Ok let’s take a closer look: Salt Cinnamon Cloves Cardamom Smoked Paprika Coriander …

Red Hummus Stuffed Chicken w/ Veg Spaghetti

Sometimes leftovers make the best meals: after making a batch of hummus, I wasn’t sure what else to use it for besides dipping tortilla chips into it. Then there were the left over carrots, aubergine and courgette from a quick vegetable roast I made a few days before. I hunted around for ideas and recipes but couldn’t find anything that really appealed to me: I found many recipes for chicken smothered in hummus, but I felt like that was a bit of a waste and wasn’t convinced the hummus would stick to the chicken while cooking. So in an effort to preserve all the great flavours of the paste and not to lose the vibrant colours and textures from the left over vegetables, I devised what was actually a very tasty dish. It really is less complicated then it looks.  Enjoy!

Cheesy Chipotle Rice ‘n’ Beans

I have to thank my friend Hayley for the inspiration behind this recipe. Last month she asked me to come up with a couple of lunch box recipes for students, tired of limp sandwiches and luke-warm pasta bakes. I completely understood where she was coming from as I have the same dilemma for work lunches; she wanted something tasty, fresh and filling that didn’t look like a dogs dinner after day 3; cheap but not compromising on nutrition and quality. Yeah she wasn’t asking for much really ;-). I’m not a great fan of brown rice. I know many people who eat it religiously and preach about its benefits, but to me it always felt like more effort than it was worth, until I created this recipe. I strongly recommend the use of short grain brown rice: it retains its shape and has a slight nutty texture and taste to it which means it can stand the pressure of being tossed around in a pan without turning into mush like so many other rice grains do. …

Spicy Pumpkin Parcels

What to do with left over pumpkin? Especially if you’ve bought a whole pumpkin like what I did, there is always going to be something left. Besides soups and throwing it in the oven, there are numerous creative recipes that can be made with this gourd. These spiced pumpkin parcels are the best example of this: once I baked them I threw a few of them straight into the freezer for those days when I really don’t feel like cooking anything. The pastry has a hint of turmeric powder in it just enough to compliment the flavour and colour of the spicy pumpkin filling. Another optional extra was that I placed two small spinach leaves at the base of the pie, for no other reason than I had some extra spinach lying around in the fridge! Once the parcels have been made they really take no time to bake in the oven and appear on your plate.                    

Gluten Free: Pumpkin Falafels

For this recipe I used the Kabocha Squash for its sweet nutty flavour. I have always found falafel a little dry and so I thought the addition of squash to the recipe would give it a smoother texture. The last night I truly enjoyed a hot falafel wrap was during one of my trips around New York last year with a friend. I don’t normally eat from street vendors, but this one was surrounded by massive signs which read: “As recommended in the New York Times” as well as having an extended queue of customers, I took a risk. They were really nice and what I liked was the unexpected crunch of the coriander seeds. This falafel can be baked or fried, I chose to fry them slightly in shallow oil just to release some of the flavours from the spices and give it that crunchy texture. And then I finished baking them in the oven. Enjoy them with a nice fresh salad or in a wrap with your favourite dressing.  

Spiced. Pistachio. Chilled. Latte

  Don’t worry, you read it correctly. I didn’t think I would see these words all in the same sentence either. But it’s real: Pistachio Milk is the next big thing following Almond, Oat and Rice as substitutes to dairy milk. Its one of my favourite’s to add to cereals, porridges or just to enjoy on its own. I find that it also lends itself to exotic flavours more than other whole nuts, partly because of its earthy green, yellowy, brown colour and also because it crops up in some many East Indian recipes both savoury and sweet. I also love a good latte, especially Chai Latte’s and so creating this recipe with Pistachio’s is really a play on the flavours and spices of Chai tea. I served this chilled and as mentioned in my previous post, try to soak the nuts for at least 6 hours or more, the longer you soak them, the silkier the taste. Enjoy!

A Bowl of Sunshine: Tarka Dal

I can still remember the sizzling sound the crushed garlic would make as it hit the tin roof of the small dutch pot my mother would use to temper. The almost charred bitter taste of the garlic is actually really pleasant here, this is the only dish where you can get away with it I think. Dal and rice was a family stable in my household growing up and so seeing this bowl of sunshine at least once a week always brightened up my day. Apparently there are at least 60 different kinds of dal, but I have traditionally grown up with the ‘yellow split pea’ as a base. In this recipe I have actually mixed it with the red lentil which cooks a lot quicker and doesn’t need soaking over night like the yellow split pea. I also didn’t completely mash up the yellow peas, you can still achieve the creamy texture this way. The ‘Tarka’ part refers to the a mix of spices fried in oil or ghee until sizzling and aromatic, and then …

Mushroom Biriyani

  This recipe is really easy to prepare and cook, and its amazingly versatile: the mushrooms can be substituted for mixed vegetables if you wish. Each stage of the rice dish is injecting a different flavour into the rice. I actually prefer to cook the rice separately and then stir it into the sautéed seasoning, however I have detailed the traditional version below. I  would also recommend serving this with the Tarka Dhal which is coming up in this blog. Copyright © Ranette Prime and Love Loretta’s Kitchen, 2014. All rights reserved.